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Triathlon Wetsuits at Bikesport

We now carry Aquaman triathlon wetsuits.
Visit their site at www.aquamantri.com

Triathlon visionary and Guru Dan Empfield invented the modern triathlon wetsuit over a decade ago. Since then wetsuits have become as common as Speedos and Powerbars at triathlons.

Triathlon specific wetsuits provide several benefits:

  1. Added safety. The additional buoyancy acts as a kind of "Personal Floatation Device". Although certainly no substitute for a Coast Guard approved PFD, a wetsuit makes you float better. If you are a weak or anxious swimmer this may add a margin of safety.
  2. Speed. This is what a wetsuit is designed for. The crummier you are at swimming, the more advantage a wetsuit offers. Expect big time savings from using a properly fitted triathlon wetsuit. Wetsuits increase buoyancy and hydrodynamics. Since water is much denser than air, hydrodynamics in the swim are more critical than aerodynamics on the bike.
  3. Warmth. It’s 7:00AM. The water is freezing. Unless you entertain fantasies of being a Navy SEAL, cold water sucks. Your wetsuit will wrap you in a warm cocoon of insulative neoprene. You may never know just how cold the water is. Navy SEALs usually use wetsuits anyway.
Two things are central to wetsuit use: Fit and proper donning.

In order for a wetsuit to work correctly while swimming, it has to fit snugly. Most people put on the correct size wetsuit and say, "It’s too tight". The suit should not leak at neck and arm holes. Although wetsuits (different from a drysuit) work by trapping a layer of water between the skin and the neoprene, and then warming that layer of water, it should not allow a constant flow of new water between your skin and the suit.

Size charts on Quintana Roo and Ironman wetsuits are very accurate. If you follow these recommendations, your suit will fit correctly.

Putting your suit on correctly is also key. Most people, probably 60%, I see at triathlons are wearing their suit wrong, or it doesn’t fit, or both.

Leave your socks on when you put on your wetsuit. This helps your feet slide through the legs without stretching out the neoprene or snagging toenails. If you use a wetsuit lubricant to speed the removal of the suit in the transition area, be sure to stick to non-petroleum products like Bodyglide or Pam vegetable non- stick cooking spray. Pull the bottom of the suit on like a pair of running tights, tugging the legs up your body being careful not to chip the smooth outer surface with your fingernails.


You should leave your socks on, then work the suit up each leg.

Be sure the suit fits snugly against your crotch.

Be sure to pull the suit up high on your legs and snug against your crotch. Don’t wear your wetsuit like Marky Mark wears his jeans. If the "pants" section of the suit is too low on your body, it will cause the top of the suit to fit poorly, affecting breathing and stroke. Once the pants of the suit are on correctly, pull up the top of the suit and put your arms through the holes (on a sleeveless "Long John") or into the sleeves if it is a full suit with long sleeves. On Long John suits it is simply a matter of pulling the torso up, over your tummy, and zipping the suit up, making sure the armholes seal correctly.


Pull the suit up over your tummy.

Full suits require the arms to be pulled on correctly, or the suit will not work. Be very careful to pull the sleeves of a full suit all the way up your arms. There should be no space between the neoprene in your armpit and your skin when you raise your arms. If there is empty space, the arms aren’t pulled up high enough. Often times, when the suit is on correctly, there will be a little wrinkle of neoprene on top of your shoulder. It is critical that the arms are pulled up all the way on a full wetsuit.


It is critical that the arms on a full suit are pulled all the way up.

Fullsuit or Longjohn? Which is better?

Good question. Although it is somewhat a matter of personal preference, in general:

Long John suits maintain your "feel" for the water by leaving your arms free. If your stroke count is high and you are not a great swimmer, chances are you may feel more comfortable with a Long John suit.

Full Suits, however, are faster for most people. Central to using a full suit correctly is getting it on right. Full suits are best for taller, more experienced swimmers with a more powerful, longer stroke and lower stroke count. Full suits radically affect the way you swim and can conserve considerable every during the swim portion of an event. How much? Here’s an example of my own from Ironman Canada 1997. These tests were conducted on three consecutive days, swim distance is approximate:

Distance Wetsuit Type Average Heart Rate Time
2.4 mile swim no wetsuit 167 bpm 1:28:37
2.4 mile swim Long John wetsuit, 162 bpm 1:14:00
2.4 mile swim Full wetsuit 154 bpm 1:09:07

This illustrates the effectiveness of a wetsuit in a race environment, not only in terms of time savings, but also energy conservation.

Care of Wetsuits.

Triathlon specific wetsuits are different from water-skiing, SCUBA or rafting wetsuits. They are fragile race equipment and require careful use. The suits are made to put on slowly, wearing socks, and taking enough time to get the suit on correctly. Take care not to "chip" or snag the surface of the suit with your fingernails. Race wetsuits are made to take off quickly when done correctly. Use a lubricant (Bodyglide or Pam, NEVER Vaseline).

Never store the suit tightly folded. Instead, let the suit air dry and hang it on a broad, wide-shouldered hanger away from heating registers. Rinse the suit off with clean, fresh water after swimming in a pool or salt water. When you pack your suit in a race bag, carry it inside out (nylon side out) to avoid chipping the smooth neoprene skin. Pack loosely and be sure it is dry. A light coating of bar soap on the zipper can make it work smoothly, but washes off quickly.

High Speed Removal.

If you practice, you can get your suit off in less than eight seconds from the waist. Triathlon specific wetsuits are made to be removed quickly.

When you reach water that is thigh deep, it is faster to run than swim. Stand up, grab the zipper leash and pull the zipper down. Pull the top of the suit off and let it flop around your waist. The manufacturer’s logo is printed on the inside of the suit upside down so it appears right side up in photos when you are running up the beach. Run to your bike and grasp the suit on either side of your hips. Firmly push the suit down your legs (1 second), Push the suit down again as far as it will go on your legs, one leg at a time (3 seconds), steady yourself by putting one hand on your bike or the bike rack. Step on the left leg of the suit with your right foot and pull your left leg up and out (2 seconds). Step on the right leg of the suit with your free left foot and pull up with your right foot (2 seconds).

If you practice this, you will be able to get your suit off in 6-8 seconds. If you find you must sit down to remove your suit, count on this adding 5-6 seconds to your transition time. Wetsuits always come off quicker when you and the suit are wet.

Bikesport carries Quintana Roo and Ironman brand wetsuits.

All wetsuits are fitted in our store. We do not mail order wetsuits due to fit issues.


Contact Bikesport to set up a fitting!
 

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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